"gradually I've come to realise that my house is haunted by the ghost of a dead astronaut"

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

41. The House that Was Never a Home

[This is a scene from the screenplay of the movie version of ‘Nicole Kidman stars in: The Astronaut Dropped’, starring Nicole Kidman (as herself) and Julianne Moore (a poor man’s Kidman) as Stephanie Fey. Okay, the movie hasn't been made yet, but this is how this scene would most probably play out.]


A small library in a small town. It's also almost empty, save for Nicole Kidman, a Hollywood actress with red hair of diminishing lustre, and Stephanie Fey, a quite stunning redhead. Steph sits at a table with a number of old books before her. She is reading and taking notes. Kidman sits across from her, her feet up on the table and rocking backwards and forwards on the back legs of the chair. The lighting is sombre. Shadows abound. During the scene, Kidman speaks loudly and her voice echoes through the library; by contrast, Steph whispers. But that's as you would expect. After all, Steph's so much more polite and charming than Kidman. Don't you agree, dear reader?
Do you mind? I’m trying to read!
     (Pretends to be offended)
Huh. It’s not me that’s distracting you, Stephanie. It’s your own thoughts.
I beg your pardon? I’m quite happily reading here, I’ll have you know.
Oh, be quiet! You’re so rude.

You really should stop thinking about all that stuff. It won’t help you. It’s baggage. Drop it. Drop it and let security come along with a sniffer dog and detonate it in a controlled explosion. That’s what you do with the baggage of the past!

It’s the past of Mordan House that I’m focused on! Not my own past. Not my own baggage.
     (Leans across the table and wags a finger at Steph, slowly and deliberately)
Then stop being distracted!

I so hate it when you do that.
I can always hover above you and do it. That any better?
No, not really.
     (Reading from a book)
This is so interesting. Apparently Mordan House was never actually a home. According to this book, a wealthy industrialist in the 19th century built it for his wife. It was to be their family home. It says that she died in childbirth and he never came to live in it. It stayed in the family possession, yet stayed empty.
     (Kidman isn't listening. She looks around at the library, distracted)
Men. Bunch of stinky bums. Big old bunch of botty burps. That's what they are.
     (She looks at Steph)

     (Looks up sternly)
I'm not talking about it. Stop saying that, will you?

     (Shrugs and changes the subject)
What book is that anyway? Mordan House - The Early Years?

There's no such book, of course. It's a book about the local history of this area.

I'm thinking about Jonathan Mido. Aren't you? Your first love in High School. He was smaller than you. You stopped dating him when you realised you'd never seen his nostrils. Aren't you thinking about him?

Well, you have to see a guy's nostrils, at least once in a while. But it wasn't really the nostrils that was the problem.
     (Looks off into space)
Imagine being a house that was made to be a home, but that purpose is never, ever realised.

No, it wasn't the nostrils. It was the fact that he was always looking down. Never looking you in the eye.

I don't think anyone who took refuge from people who were violent towards them could ever have regarded Mordan House as their home. Just imagine. Never knowing the sound of love cries in the night. Never knowing a baby's screams and the sleepy padding of bare-footed parents across a hallway.

You knew that he never looked you in the eye because he didn't love you.

I'm the first person to ever call it home. And it isn't even really my home! I'm really just a caretaker.

A janitor.

     (Steph snaps back to reality and raises her voice in replying)
No! I'm not a janitor!
     (She looks around, embarrassed to have raised her voice)
What about Thomas Quip before him. I know he's on your mind too. Stubby-nosed, black finger-nailed Tommy Quip. He was the first boy to feel your breasts.

     (Looks away on purpose and stares into space)
To never know a dinner party. To never know the first tipsy embrace of two lovers whose feet touched under the table. To never know a child running onto the gravel at the sound of a father's car coming up the driveway. To never know happy silence, full to the brim with saying nothing.
     (Looks at Kidman)
Yes. I knew he didn't love me. That was the real reason I had never seen his nostrils.

Tommy felt your breast and was shocked that it was so firm. I mean, really shocked! He thought it would be softer. He told all the other boys in school that your breasts were hard as rocks.

Alright, Kidman, alright. Just leave it, will you.

And what did they call you after that? Pebbles!

     (Folds her arms self-consciously)
That's right. You happy now?

And ever since then you've tried to find some way to ask every man you're with if your breasts feel normal. Or do they feel like -
Kidman stops talking as she notices that Steph is not listening. Instead Steph is looking down a library aisle at a shadowy figure walking towards her.
Pebbles? Pebbles! You don't seem to be able to hear me, although you're only a STONE'S throw away, Pebbles!
Steph's face grows fearful, but then the figure is revealled and it is a woman in her 40s with a shopping bag and wearing a large coat. She walks by the table that Steph's sitting at.
Not yet, ma dear.

No, not yet.
Steph looks down at the book she's been reading. The open page has a black and white picture of Mordan House on it. Steph gently strokes the image of the house.
There, there, little house. There, there.
Suddenly Steph grabs the top of her head, obviously thinking that she has felt something touch her there. She looks behind her but there is nothing and no-one to be seen. Looking across the table at the seat where Kidman had been sitting, she notices also that the seat is empty.



Shelley/Book Fanatic said...

LOL! I would love to be able to drop inside your brain for five minutes. You're so creative!

logankstewart said...

You are a genius. Just so that's clear. Ditto what Shelley said. "You're so creative!" Verily, verily, you are.

Jen said...

Stef you are amazing!!!! I love reading all of your work! You are so creative!!!

Pebbles... *laughs hysterically* I'll be thinking about it for awhile!!!

Selchie said...

wow, I'm up to date, what a great story! your writing is exquisite. I'm loving all the twisty turny things.. and you've made me laugh. I'm hooked. Liked your opening with Julianne Moore, and Nicole's diminishing. Pebbles huh, those stupid things that get inside you.
Will definitely be back.)

Nicole Ducleroir said...

This scene was so much fun to read! You have an innate ability to capture characters' voices in all their shades of sound and expression. Fantastic! Can't wait to read more :))

Stephanie Fey said...

Well, I didn't expect to click online and see all these lovely, generous comments!

Shelley, it's been AGES since we last communicated - let's both not leave it so long next time.

Logan, I put a comment on your blog earlier - genius is a scary word. I'd prefer to be plucked by a dead spaceman than such a terrifying term. But I thank you also for being a great blog buddy.

Jen, what happened with the exclamation marks?!! You completely lost it!!!! From now on, if I see a lessening in volume of exclamation marks then I KNOW I'm not hitting the mark!

Selchie, thank you so much for catching up with things. If any man tells you you got pebbles, kick him in the rocks! Some twisty-turny bits set to un-twisty and un-turny pretty soon!

And what can I say to lovely Nicole? It's a pleasure to know you
and a pleasure to be complimented by you. Consider a big pile of 'thank yous' just dropped on your doorstep. You may need a shovel to get out in the morning!

Oh, and Steph (that's me), you should get some sleep after all that.

Good idea zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Steph x

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Oh....shivers. Love it. You have a gift for drawing the reader/audience into the scene. I would love to see this movie. So, you know, be sure you publish and make it into a movie. Now, that's not a request. It's more like a polite command.

Yes, I'm demanding, I know. I get that way sometimes, especially with talented people. I don't know what's wrong with me.

(Seriously, though, this has to publish. An utter waste of beauty otherwise...and I don't even know the full premise/story yet.)

P.S. I left a little award for you at my blog ;)

Stephanie Fey said...

Thank you, Carolina. For the lovely comments and for the award.

The funny thing is that I regard this as publishing. The vehicle is correct for the story and for the way the story is presented. I haven't tried to sell this and I don't have any plans to. I intend to play it out until the end and then it will stand here for anyone and everyone to read and comment on.

What more do I need? Yes, a hard copy would be a bonus, but so too is every lovely comment like yours.

I think we should all think of our blogs as publishing. These words are forever. So make each one count!

Steph Fey xx

(There, you got two kisses - and that's a first!)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Excellent point!!! I love that. But will you consider making a movie, will ya??? Pretty please with a cherry on top??

Stephanie Fey said...

Ha ha! Well, let me get it written first of all. If I'm still alive then we'll talk about it.

Steph xx

Nevine said...

Steph, I loved this to bits! Not only are you a great writer, you're also a screenwriter... he he he. That was fantastically entertaining. The conversation, the library setting, the spookiness while reading the book... you're in your own zone, you see something, someone appears, someone disappears. Wow! Loved this! Will there be more like this one? Please say yes!


Stephanie Fey said...

Thank you, Nevine.

Well, there's a time and a place for this kind of instalment and this kind of format. I certainly know when in the future, but it's a while away. Whether it feels right again before then, I'm not sure.

But it was fun to write. Fun, fun, fun. If writing's not fun, what's the point!

Lovely to see you stop by as ever, Nevine. Thank you.

Steph x

Eva said...

How are you so amazingly talented. That was a wonderful scene, you really put me in the room with the characters. I love how you and Kidman are with each other. She's a feisty one.

Stephanie Fey said...

Hello, lovely Eva.

I always get great encouragement from knowing you're around and reading and being your typical wonderfully supportive self!

Lots of love coming your way from Mordan House.

Steph x